Municipalities of Germany

Last updated
Municipalities of Germany
Deutsche Gemeinden (German)
Category Municipality
Location Germany
Found in District (Kreis)
Populations11 (Gröde) - 3,600,000 (Berlin)
Administrative divisions of Germany. (Clickable image). Administrative divisions of Germany.svg Federal LevelFederal StatesCity States(Governmental Districts)(Rural) Districts(Collective Municipalities)Municipalities(Municipalities)Urban Districts
Administrative divisions of Germany. (Clickable image).

Municipalities [1] (German : Gemeinden, singular Gemeinde) are the lowest level of official territorial division in Germany. This can be the second, third, fourth or fifth level of territorial division, depending on the status of the municipality and the Land (federal state) it is part of. The city-states Berlin and Hamburg are second-level divisions. A Gemeinde is one level lower in those states which also include Regierungsbezirke (singular: Regierungsbezirk) as an intermediate territorial division (Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia). The Gemeinde is one level higher if it is not part of a Gemeindeverband ("municipal association"). [1]


The highest degree of autonomy may be found in the Gemeinden which are not part of a Kreis ("district"). [1] These Gemeinden are referred to as Kreisfreie Städte or Stadtkreise , often translated as "urban district". In some states they retained a higher measure of autonomy than the other municipalities of the Kreis (e.g. Große Kreisstadt). Municipalities titled Stadt (town or city) are urban municipalities while those titled Gemeinde are classified as rural municipalities.

With more than 3,600,000 inhabitants, the most populous municipality of Germany is the city of Berlin; and the least populous is Gröde in Schleswig-Holstein.

Municipalities per federal state

Status as of December 2018.

Federal stateMunicipalities [2] Municipalities with town status [2] Municipalities that are urban districts [2] Average no. of inhabitants [2] [3] Average area (km2) [2] Lists (Cities, Towns,
Baden-Württemberg 1,101313910,01232.5 C, T, M
Bavaria 2,056317256,32134.3 C, T, M
Berlin 1113,613,000891.0 Berlin
Brandenburg 41711346,00571.1 C, T, M
Bremen 222340,500209.5 Bremen, Bremerhaven
Hamburg 1111,831,000755.2 Hamburg
Hesse 422191514,75949.9 C, T, M
Lower Saxony 93915988,42650.5 C, T, M
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 7268422,14831.1 C, T, M
North Rhine-Westphalia 3962712245,23286.1 C, T, M
Rhineland-Palatinate 2,301129121,7688.6 C, T, M
Saarland 5217019,11549.4 C, T, M
Saxony 41916939,69443.8 C, T, M
Saxony-Anhalt 218104310,19793.8 C, T, M
Schleswig-Holstein 1,1066342,61314.3 C, T, M
Thuringia 63112462,62019.7 C, T, M
Germany 11,0142,0581077,51732.5 C, T, M

Municipal reforms

The number of municipalities of Germany has decreased strongly over the years: in 1968 there were 24,282 municipalities in West Germany, and in 1980 there were 8,409. [4] The same trend occurred in the New states of Germany after the German reunification: from 7,612 municipalities in 1990 [5] to 2,627 at the end of 2018. [2] While in some cases growing cities absorbed neighbouring municipalities, most of these mergers were driven by a need to increase the efficiency and reduce costs of administration. [4] At the same time, many districts and also urban districts were merged into larger districts.

Types of municipalities

There are several types of municipalities in Germany, with different levels of autonomy. Each federal state has its own administrative laws, and its own local government structure. The main types of municipalities are:

Local elections

In all municipalities, the mayor and the members of the municipal council are appointed by local elections that take place on a regular basis. Elections for the municipal councils (Kommunalwahlen) take place every 4 years in Bremen, every 6 years in Bavaria and every 5 years in all other states. [6]

The office of mayor is full-time (hauptamtlich) in larger municipalities, and voluntary (ehrenamtlich) in smaller municipalities, for instance those that are part of a municipal association. Mayors are elected for a specific term, which is different in every state. Since mayoral elections also have to be held when a mayor resigns from office, these do not take place at the same time for all municipalities in a state. The terms for mayors are: [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Regierungsbezirk</i> Type of administrative division in Germany

A Regierungsbezirk means "governmental district" and is a type of administrative division in Germany. Four of sixteen Bundesländer are split into Regierungsbezirke. Beneath these are rural and urban districts.

Amt is a type of administrative division governing a group of municipalities, today only in Germany, but formerly also common in other countries of Northern Europe. Its size and functions differ by country and the term is roughly equivalent to a US township or county or English shire district.

A Verbandsgemeinde is a low-level administrative unit in the German federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt. A Verbandsgemeinde is typically composed of a small group of villages or towns.

States of Germany First-level administrative subdivisions of the Federal Republic of Germany

The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen partly sovereign federated states. Since the German nation state was formed from an earlier collection of several states, it has a federal constitution, and the constituent states retain a measure of sovereignty.

Districts of Germany Part of the geopolitical division of Germany

In all German states, except for the three city states, the primary administrative subdivision higher than a Gemeinde (Municipality) is the Landkreis or Kreis. Most major cities in Germany are not part of any Kreis, but instead combine the functions of a municipality and a Kreis; such a city is referred to as a kreisfreie Stadt or Stadtkreis.

The Official Municipality Key, formerly also known as the Official Municipality Characteristic Number or Municipality Code Number, is a number sequence for the identification of politically independent municipalities or unincorporated areas. Other classifications for the identification of areas include postal codes, NUTS codes or FIPS codes.

Elections in Germany include elections to the Bundestag, the Landtags of the various states, and local elections.

Große Kreisstadt

Große Kreisstadt is a term in the municipal law (Gemeindeordnung) of several German states. In some federal states the term is used as a special legal status for a district-affiliated town—as distinct from an independent city—with additional competences in comparison with other municipalities of the district. The title is based on sovereign conferment by the state government.

Neustadt am Main Municipality in Bavaria, Germany

Neustadt am Main is a community in the Main-Spessart district in the Regierungsbezirk of Lower Franconia (Unterfranken) in Bavaria, Germany and a member of the Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Lohr am Main.

The Landesliga is a tier of football in some states of the German football league system.

Wonsheim Municipality in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Wonsheim is an Ortsgemeinde – a municipality belonging to a Verbandsgemeinde, a kind of collective municipality – in the Alzey-Worms district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

Rödern Municipality in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Rödern is an Ortsgemeinde – a municipality belonging to a Verbandsgemeinde, a kind of collective municipality – in the Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis (district) in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It belongs to the Verbandsgemeinde of Kirchberg, whose seat is in the town of Kirchberg.

Events in the year 2006 in Germany.

Old states of Germany Ten states of Germany, previously states in former West Germany

The old states of Germany are the ten states of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) that unified with the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) with its re-established 5 states upon German reunification on October 3, 1990.

Municipal associations are statutory corporations or public bodies created by statute in the German federal states of Bavaria, Saxony, Thuringia, and Schleswig-Holstein. In Baden-Württemberg the term stipulated municipal association is used.

<i>Gemeindeverband</i> Union of at least two municipalities in Germany to exercise the powers of self-government

Gemeindeverband is a union of at least two municipalities in Germany to form a Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts with the purpose to exercise the powers of self-government at a larger scale, while maintaining autonomy of its members.

The Minister president (Ministerpräsident) is the head of state and government in thirteen of Germany's sixteen states.

Lists of German municipal flags Wikipedia list article

The list of German municipal flags lists the flags of municipalities of Germany. Most municipalities of Germany have unique flags. Like state flags, most of them are with either a bicolor or tricolor stipes with or without the emblem ("wappen").


  1. 1 2 3 4 Country Compendium. A companion to the English Style Guide, European Commission, May 2021, pages 58–59.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Statistisches Jahrbuch 2019" (PDF). Statistisches Bundesamt. p. 29. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  3. Populations as of December 31, 2017
  4. 1 2 Guth, D.; Scheer, J. (November 2010). "Kommunale Gebietsreformem und Vergleichbarkeit von Gemeindestrukturdaten" (PDF). Raum und Mobilität - Arbeitspapiere des Fachgebiets Verkehrswesen und Verkehrsplanung. TU Dortmund. 20.
  5. "Gebietsreformen – politische Entscheidungen und Folgen für die Statistik" (PDF). BBSR-Berichte KOMPAKT. Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung. 6. July 2010.
  6. Übersicht über die Wahlsysteme bei Kommunalwahlen, accessed 12 July 2021.
  7. Kost, A.; Wehling, H.-G. (2010). Kost, Andreas; Wehling, Hans-Georg (eds.). Kommunalpolitik in den deutschen Ländern: Eine Einführung (in German). Springer-Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-3-531-92034-4. ISBN   978-3-531-17007-7.